Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Hope yet for Watters jobs

Cobram Watters employees may soon be back at work after talks.

ROWAN OVERWATER June 6, 2012 4:58am

Watters electrical employees may yet have jobs to go back to.

Ten Cobram Watters Electrical employees may be back in the office by tomorrow morning with former owner Robin Knaggs purportedly in talks with liquidators.

Former Cobram and Eildon branch manager Nick Lucarelli said former owner Robin Knaggs was cutting short an overseas holiday to finalise talks with liquidators and aim to return to business within the week.

Nephew of the late founder Lance Watters, Mr Knaggs sold Watters Electrical to the Hastie Group in 2007.

The deal would see about 100 workers from Cobram, Shepparton and Eildon reclaim their jobs with the business that was dragged into liquidation by parent Hastie Group on Tuesday.

‘‘To be honest, we’re looking at Thursday to get back through the door and start answering phones again,’’ Mr Lucarelli said.

‘‘The only thing that’s delaying things are the liquidators.’’

While optimistic, Mr Lucarelli acknowledged as of late last week that nothing was certain.

‘‘One door shuts, another one opens,’’ he said.

Mr Lucarelli said if the deal went ahead, all Cobram, Shepparton and Eildon employees made redundant by the Hastie Group liquidation would be offered their jobs back.

‘‘I can only speak for the Shepparton, Cobram and Eildon offices — they’re the only ones I’m directly involved with,’’ he said.

‘‘At this stage everybody on the list has been notified.

‘‘Most of the guys know Robin Knaggs — they know what sort of person he is.

‘‘Most of them have said that if he comes on board they’d like to follow him down that path.’’

Last Monday workers learnt they would be without pay for at least 28 days, but were purportedly informed of Mr Knaggs’ intentions on ‘‘more or less the same day’’.

After being made redundant on Tuesday last week, employees met with union representatives in Shepparton on Wednesday where they were told they were unlikely to recieve redundancy packages for six months following the Hastie group’s liquidation.

‘‘We had a meeting in the Shepp offices with the mayor and Centrelink and everything about job opportunity and places,’’ Mr Lucarelli said.

‘‘Everyone got some information about the procedure just in case.

‘‘I’ve basically said to everyone: put it down as a couple weeks’ holidays and see what happens.’’

The optimism is a stark contrast to that of last Monday morning as most employees were simply advised not to bother turning up for work.

‘‘The manager from Shepparton was notified early in the morning,’’ Mr Lucarelli said.

‘‘He called us in and quietly told us that people were coming and starting the liquidation process.

‘‘I’d never experienced it before.

‘‘They let you take your personal belongings.

‘‘It was hard.

‘‘We were stunned.’’

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